As the first major German fleet customer sues the Volkswagen Group (VW) over the emissions scandal, the director of VW's electric vehicle (EV) model line has said the group’s EVs will launch in quick succession from 2020 onwards.
German fish distributor Deutsche See, which won a sustainability prize in 2010, is suing Volkswagen Group for misrepresenting the 500-vehicle fleet it leases as environmentally friendly. The company says it failed to reach an out-of-court settlement with the carmaker after Volkswagen replaced the relevant managers in talks with lawyers and PR managers.
German tabloid Bild revealed Bremerhaven-based Deutsche See is suing for €11.9 million. The company filed its complaint for malicious deception at the regional Brunswick court, near Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg headquarters, saying: ‘Deutsche See only went into partnership with Volkswagen because Volkswagen promised the most environmentally friendly, sustainable mobility concept.’
The legal fallout from the Volkswagen emissions scandal has cost the group more than €20 billion so far – but this sum is almost entirely from the US, and European attempts at legal action are still in progress. Despite being the second-biggest scandal payout in US history, the highly diversified 13-brand German giant still became the world’s largest carmaker in 2016. The Group is now trying to put the past behind it and become the leader in environmentally-friendly vehicles.
Major operational moves will be made by the Volkswagen Group in 2017, with detailed plant expansion planning, and integrating and tying in suppliers ready for the next generation of cars to be on the starting line in 2020, director of Volkswagen Group’s electric model line Christian Senger told Automobilwoche.
Volkswagen Group’s new Modular Electrification Platform (MEB) – which will also be used on its Audi, Skoda and SEAT brands from an early stage – puts the battery, the most valuable component, in the centre of the vehicle. This creates a centre of gravity exactly in the middle, with rear-wheel drive.
The cars will have a long wheelbase to create maximum space for a flat bottom battery and to allow for scalability and flexibility. The MEB platform can accommodate any cell format from any supplier and can be used for SUVs and sedans.
Regarding how to boost customer uptake of electric vehicles, Senger said: ‘Our recipe is actually simple: Eliminate all the obstacles. Why aren't customers buying an electric car? The answer: too little range, too high an entry price, insufficient charging infrastructure. We have to do away with all that. And when the customer is at the dealership and sees that an electric car has significantly more interior space and countless functions thanks to software updates, the vehicle can win over the customer. We expect that one Golf customer in five will choose an I.D. [their new electric brand.] And we will also win customers from the competition.’
He added: ‘We are getting into a real market from 2020 on. That's when it will get exciting. If you begin investing early, you may be a pioneer but not a market success.’
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